Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Storm's a-risin'

You might recall that when Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast in October 2012, devastating large areas and taking 147 lives, we were quick to find out what had caused the monster storm.

It wasn't warm water and low shear in the western Atlantic.  It wasn't, in a larger sense, due to climate change providing more heat energy to juice up big storms.  No, it was caused by the most powerful meteorological force known:


This, at least, was the contention of John McTernan, who said that Sandy was divine punishment for our acceptance of LGBTQ people.  Which makes me wonder why God's aim is so bad.  Sending a huge-ass storm to target one, fairly spread-out group of people, is poor planning.  My guess is just as many holy people were harmed by Sandy as unholy ones.

Oh, well. "God works in mysterious ways."

It's nice to know, though, that our LGBTQ friends aren't the only ones who are capable of stirring up killer storms.  On right-wing commentator Chris McDonald's show The McFiles, we learned a couple of weeks ago that Hurricane Florence was created by Democrats to destroy any evidence that they're committing massive voter fraud in North Carolina.  Here's the exact quote:
I saw where North Carolina had done the voter fraud stuff for the machines, for this, that, and the other; they had caught it or something like that and they were going after it.  I said, ‘Oh boy.’  Sure enough, there is was; here comes the hurricane.  Bigger than life, there is was.  And I just found out, literally, though another source of mine, contact this morning, sure enough, they said it was in fact made by man and generated by the HAARP system, basically, and it was meant to try and flood North Carolina and flood out the evidence of what was going on with the voter fraud.
My opinion is that if Democrats could create and steer storms, there'd already have been tornadoes at Lindsay Graham's doorstep.

[Image courtesy of NASA/JPL]

But as we've seen before, there's no claim that is so completely batshit crazy that it can't be bettered, and we saw this last week with a proclamation by Mark Taylor, the self-styled "firefighter prophet," who said that we've seen yet another storm that has nothing to do with plain old ordinary meteorology.  Hurricane Michael, which devastated the panhandle of Florida, was sent there by Democrats because they're angry about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Here's what Taylor said:
Does anyone else think it's strange that Justice K is sworn in and we have a major hurricane inbound?  DS scared?  They should be.  Retaliation?  Absolutely.  We will not be intimidated.  Warriors arise, time to go to work!  You know what to do...
Okay, I have just a few questions about this.
  1. Isn't it kind of funny that when the Democrats (and/or the gays and/or God) get mad, they only send hurricanes to places that always get hurricanes anyhow?  And only during hurricane season?  If the Democrats (and/or the gays and/or God) sent a hurricane to Omaha, Nebraska in February, I might be impressed.
  2. Even if you believe this, it's another example of abysmal aim.  The storm came nowhere near Brett Kavanaugh.
  3. If Taylor's "warriors" do arise, and go to work, what the hell are they planning to do?  Maybe they're taking a page from the Persian Emperor Xerxes's book, wherein he attempted to bridge the Hellespont and his bridge got destroyed in a storm, so he sentenced the ocean to three hundred lashes.  His men duly carried out the sentence, whipping the waves.  I'd have done the same thing, since saying to Xerxes, "I'll do no such thing, because it's a really stupid idea" was a good way of finding yourself next in line.  And unlike the sea, which probably didn't care, I'm guessing when a human gets three hundred lashes it hurts like a motherfucker.
  4. Does Mark Taylor always come up with this kind of stuff?  Because right now he sounds like someone whose skull is filled with cobwebs and dead insects, but who is somehow still talking.
So anyhow.  I can pretty much guarantee that none of the above-mentioned storms were generated by anything but atmospheric conditions at the time, and no one is able to summon a storm on command and then steer it.  Maybe God can, I dunno.  I'm certainly no expert in that realm.  But even he seems to be a little sketchy about the "steering" part.

I know that's kind of prosaic, and not nearly as interesting as divine retribution or evil HAARP-using Democrats or gays generating hurricanes with their giant rainbow-colored Storm-o-Matic.  But really, people.  Get a grip.  We're coming into snow season here in the Frozen North, and we have enough trouble with the ordinary kind of weather.  If every time we have a Winter Storm Warning I have to worry about whether it's an ordinary storm or some group with a vague vendetta creating bad weather to make me miserable, it's gonna be a really long winter.


In writing Apocalyptic Planet, science writer Craig Childs visited some of the Earth's most inhospitable places.  The Greenland Ice Cap.  A new lava flow in Hawaii.  Uncharted class-5 rapids in the Salween River of Tibet.  The westernmost tip of Alaska.  The lifeless "dune seas" of northern Mexico.  The salt pans in the Atacama Desert of Chile, where it hasn't rained in recorded history.

In each place, he not only uses lush, lyrical prose to describe his surroundings, but uses his experiences to reflect upon the history of the Earth.  How conditions like these -- glaciations, extreme drought, massive volcanic eruptions, meteorite collisions, catastrophic floods -- have triggered mass extinctions, reworking not only the physical face of the planet but the living things that dwell on it.  It's a disturbing read at times, not least because Childs's gift for vivid writing makes you feel like you're there, suffering what he suffered to research the book, but because we are almost certainly looking at the future.  His main tenet is that such cataclysms have happened many times before, and will happen again.

It's only a matter of time.

[If you purchase the book from Amazon using the image/link below, part of the proceeds goes to supporting Skeptophilia!]

1 comment:

  1. Oh I simply laughed my way through this one, Gordon. I began chuckling by the third paragraph and by the end of the piece I was in stitches. The only problem as you've stated so well off and on, these nutcases are serious and carry others along with them to who knows where--the voting polls for one! Lord help us. I guess now, being a Democrat, I should look out my window at the gathering clouds.